The Associated Press is reporting that Germany's largest labor union and industry leaders avoided a major strike by agreeing to a 3 percent pay rise for the nation's 3.4 million manufacturing workers Saturday.
Coming after almost 18 hours of talks in the key state of North Rhine-Westphalia, the deal foresees a 3 percent raise covering the 10 months starting June 1, plus one-time payments that are flexible on a company-by-company basis. Both sides said the deal was to be adopted nationwide in the coming week.
Chancellor Angela Merkel joined union and industry leaders in welcoming the agreement but some groups representing small and mid-sized businesses criticized the deal as too generous.
''This was a clear victory for the union,'' Hannes Hesse, head of the VDMA industry group, was quoted as telling the Tagesspiegel in its Sunday edition, an advance copy of which was released Saturday. He warned the increased costs could damage the competitiveness of smaller businesses and put jobs at risk.